A cross-platform, fast, feature full, GPU based terminal emulator

= kitty - A terminal emulator :toc: :toc-placement!: // START_SHORTCUT_BLOCK :sc_close_tab: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+q] :sc_close_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+w] :sc_copy_to_clipboard: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+c] :sc_decrease_font_size: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+minus] :sc_edit_config_file: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+f2] :sc_eighth_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+8] :sc_fifth_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+5] :sc_first_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+1] :sc_fourth_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+4] :sc_increase_font_size: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+equal] :sc_input_unicode_character: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+u] :sc_kitten_hints: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+e] :sc_kitten_hints_type_line_program: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+p → l] :sc_kitten_hints_type_path: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+p → shift+f] :sc_kitten_hints_type_path_program: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+p → f] :sc_kitten_hints_type_word_program: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+p → w] :sc_kitty_shell_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+escape] :sc_move_tab_backward: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+,] :sc_move_tab_forward: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+.] :sc_move_window_backward: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+b] :sc_move_window_forward: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+f] :sc_move_window_to_top: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+``] :sc_new_os_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+n] :sc_new_tab: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+t] :sc_new_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+enter] :sc_next_layout: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+l] :sc_next_tab: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+right] :sc_next_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+]] :sc_ninth_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+9] :sc_pass_selection_to_program: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+o] :sc_paste_from_clipboard: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+v] :sc_paste_from_selection: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+sorshift+insert] :sc_previous_tab: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+left] :sc_previous_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+[] :sc_restore_font_size: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+backspace] :sc_scroll_end: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+end] :sc_scroll_home: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+home] :sc_scroll_line_down: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+downorctrl+shift+j] :sc_scroll_line_up: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+uporctrl+shift+k] :sc_scroll_page_down: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+page_down] :sc_scroll_page_up: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+page_up] :sc_second_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+2] :sc_set_background_opacity_0_1: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+a → l] :sc_set_background_opacity_1: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+a → 1] :sc_set_background_opacity_default: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+a → d] :sc_set_background_opacity_plus0_1: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+a → m] :sc_set_tab_title: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+alt+t] :sc_seventh_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+7] :sc_show_scrollback: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+h] :sc_sixth_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+6] :sc_start_resizing_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+r] :sc_tenth_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+0] :sc_third_window: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+3] :sc_toggle_fullscreen: pass:quotes[ctrl+shift+f11`] // END_SHORTCUT_BLOCK

++++++++ image::[Build status, link=]

== Major Features

  • Uses OpenGL for rendering, offloads rendering to the GPU for link:#performance[lower system load] and buttery smooth scrolling. Uses threaded rendering to minimize input latency.

  • Supports all modern terminal features: link:graphics-protocol.asciidoc[graphics (images)], unicode, true-color, OpenType ligatures, mouse protocol, focus tracking, bracketed paste and so on.

  • Supports tiling multiple terminal windows side by side in different link:#layouts[layouts] without needing to use an extra program like tmux

  • Can be link:remote-control.asciidoc[controlled from scripts or the shell prompt], even over SSH.

  • Has a framework for kittens, small terminal programs that can be used to extend kitty's functionality. For example, they are used for link:#unicode-input[Unicode input], link:#hints[Hints] and link:[Side-by-side diff].

  • Supports link:#startup-sessions[startup sessions] which allow you to specify the window/tab layout, working directories and programs to run on startup.

  • Cross-platform support: kitty currently works on Linux and macOS, but because it uses only OpenGL for rendering, it should be trivial to port to other platforms.

  • Allows you to open link:#the-scrollback-buffer[the scrollback buffer] in a separate window using arbitrary programs of your choice. This is useful for browsing the history comfortably in a pager or editor.

image::screenshots/screenshot.png?raw=true[Screenshot, showing three programs in the "Tall" layout]


== Installation

kitty is designed to run from source, for easy hackability. Make sure the following dependencies are installed first.

=== Dependencies

  • python >= 3.5
  • harfbuzz >= 1.5.0
  • zlib
  • libpng
  • freetype (not needed on macOS)
  • fontconfig (not needed on macOS)
  • ImageMagick (optional, needed to use the kitty icat tool to display images in the terminal)
  • pygments (optional, need for syntax highlighting in kitty +kitten diff)
  • gcc or clang (required only for building)
  • pkg-config (required only for building)
  • For building on Linux in addition to the above dependencies you might also need to install the -dev packages for xcursor, xrandr, libxi, xinerama, libgl1-mesa and xkbcommon-x11, if they are not already installed by your distro.

=== Install and run from source

.... git clone && cd kitty ....

Now build the native code parts of kitty with the following command:

.... make ....

You can run kitty, as:

.... python3 . ....

If that works, you can create a script to launch kitty:


!/usr/bin/env python3

import runpy runpy.run_path('/path/to/kitty/dir', run_name='main') ....

And place it in ~/bin or /usr/bin so that you can run kitty using just kitty.

=== Linux packages

=== macOS packages

kitty is available as a macOS dmg file for easy installation from the link:../../releases[releases page]. You can also run kitty directly from source using the above install from source instructions, after installing its dependencies using[brew] or a similar package manager.

== Design philosophy

kitty is designed for power keyboard users. To that end all its controls work with the keyboard (although it fully supports mouse interactions as well). Its configuration is a simple, human editable, single file for easy reproducibility (I like to store config files in source control).

The code in kitty is designed to be simple, modular and hackable. It is written in a mix of C (for performance sensitive parts) and Python (for easy hackability of the UI). It does not depend on any large and complex UI toolkit, using only OpenGL for rendering everything.

Finally, kitty is designed from the ground up to support all modern terminal features, such as unicode, true color, bold/italic fonts, text formatting, etc. It even extends existing text formatting escape codes, to add support for features not available elsewhere, such as colored and styled (curly) underlines. One of the design goals of kitty is to be easily extensible so that new features can be added in the future with relatively less effort.

== Tabs and Windows

kitty is capable of running multiple programs organized into tabs and windows. The top level of organization is the Tab. Each tab consists of one or more windows. The windows can be arranged in multiple different layouts, like windows are organized in a tiling window manager. The keyboard controls (which are all customizable) for tabs and windows are:

[[scrolling-shortcuts]] [options="header"]

=== Scrolling

|=== |Action |Shortcut

|Scroll line up | {sc_scroll_line_up} |Scroll line down | {sc_scroll_line_down} |Scroll page up | {sc_scroll_page_up} |Scroll page down | {sc_scroll_page_down} |Scroll to top | {sc_scroll_home} |Scroll to bottom | {sc_scroll_end}



=== Tabs

|=== |Action |Shortcut

|New tab | {sc_new_tab} |Close tab | {sc_close_tab} |Next tab | {sc_next_tab} |Previous tab | {sc_previous_tab} |Next layout | {sc_next_layout} |Move tab forward | {sc_move_tab_forward} |Move tab backward | {sc_move_tab_backward} |Set tab title | {sc_set_tab_title}



=== Windows

|=== |Action |Shortcut

|New window | {sc_new_window} |New OS window| {sc_new_os_window} |Close window | {sc_close_window} |Next window | {sc_next_window} |Previous window | {sc_previous_window} |Move window forward | {sc_move_window_forward} |Move window backward | {sc_move_window_backward} |Move window to top | {sc_move_window_to_top} |Focus specific window (windows are counted clockwise from the top left corner) | {sc_first_window}, {sc_second_window} ... {sc_tenth_window}


=== Miscellaneous

|=== |Action |Shortcut

|Increase font size | {sc_increase_font_size} |Decrease font size | {sc_decrease_font_size} |Restore font size | {sc_restore_font_size} |Toggle fullscreen | {sc_toggle_fullscreen} |Input unicode character | {sc_input_unicode_character} |Click URL using the keyboard | {sc_run_simple_kitten_text_url_hints} |Pass current selection to program | {sc_pass_selection_to_program} |Edit kitty config file | {sc_edit_config_file} |Open a kitty shell | {sc_kitty_shell} |Increase background opacity | {sc_set_background_opacity_plus0_1} |Decrease background opacity | {sc_set_background_opacity_0_1} |Full background opacity | {sc_set_background_opacity_1} |Reset background opacity | {sc_set_background_opacity_default} |===

== Controlling kitty from scripts

You can control kitty from the command line/scripts by sending it messages. You can tell kitty to open/close/rename tabs and windows. You can even send arbitrary input/text to any specified window. Messages can be sent using kitty @. Note that you must set allow_remote_control yes in your link:kitty/kitty.conf[kitty.conf] to use this feature. It even works over SSH connections. This feature is best illustrated with a link:remote-control.asciidoc[tutorial].

== The scrollback buffer

kitty supports scrolling back to view history, just like most terminals. You can use either the <> or the mouse scroll wheel to do so. However, kitty has an extra, neat feature. Sometimes you need to explore the scrollback buffer in more detail, maybe search for some text or refer to it side-by-side while typing in a follow-up command. kitty allows you to do this by pressing the {sc_show_scrollback} key-combination, which will open the scrollback buffer in your favorite pager program (which is less by default). Colors and text formatting are preserved. You can explore the scrollback pager comfortably within the pager.

== Unicode input

You can input unicode characters by name, hex code, recently used and even an editable favorites list. Press {sc_input_unicode_character} to start the unicode input widget, shown below.

image::screenshots/unicode.png?raw=true[Unicode input widget, showing selection of unicode characters by name]

In Code mode, you enter a unicode character by typing in the hex code for the character and pressing enter, for example, type in 2716 and press enter to get ✖. You can also choose a character from the list of recently used characters by typing a leading period and then the two character index and pressing Enter.

In Name mode you instead type words from the character name and use the arrow keys/tab to select the character from the displayed matches. You can also type a leading period and the index for the match if you dont like to use arrow keys.

== Hints

kitty has a hints mode to select and act on arbitrary text snippets currently visible on the screen. For example, you can press {sc_run_kitten_text_hints} to choose any URL visible on the screen and then open it using your system browser.

image::screenshots/hints_mode.png?raw=true[URL hints mode]

Similarly, you can press {sc_run_kitten_text_hints_type_path_program} to select anything that looks like a path or filename and then insert it into the terminal, very useful for picking files from the output of a git or ls command and adding them to the command line for the next command.

The hints kitten is very powerful to see more detailed help on its various options and modes of operation, use: kitty +kitten hints --help.

== Miscellaneous features

  • You can also hold down ctrl+shift and click on a URL to open it in a browser.
  • You can double click to select a word and triple click to select a line.
  • You can right click to extend a previous selection

== Layouts

Currently, there are five layouts available,

  • Stack -- Only a single maximized window is shown at a time
  • Tall -- One window is shown full height on the left, the rest of the windows are shown one below the other on the right
  • Fat -- One window is shown full width on the top, the rest of the windows are shown side-by-side on the bottom
  • Grid -- All windows are shown in a grid
  • Horizontal -- All windows are shown side-by-side
  • Vertical -- All windows are shown one below the other

You can switch between layouts using the {sc_next_layout} key combination. You can also create shortcuts to select particular layouts, and choose which layouts you want to enable/disable, see link:kitty/kitty.conf[kitty.conf] for examples.

You can resize windows inside layouts. Press {sc_start_resizing_window} to enter resizing mode and follow the on-screen instructions. In a given window layout only some operations may be possible for a particular window. For example, in the Tall layout you can make the first window wider/narrower, but not taller/shorter. Note that what you are resizing is actually not a window, but a row/column in the layout, all windows in that row/column will be resized.

Some layouts take options to control their behavior. For example, the fat and tall layouts accept the bias option to control how the available space is split up. To specify the option, in kitty.conf use:

enabled_layouts tall:bias=70

This will make the tall window occupy 70% of available width. bias can be any number between 10 and 90.

Writing a new layout only requires about a hundred lines of code, so if there is some layout you want, take a look at link:kitty/[] and submit a pull request!

== Configuration

kitty is highly customizable, everything from keyboard shortcuts, to painting frames-per-second. See the heavily commented link:kitty/kitty.conf[default config file] for an overview of all customization possibilities.

By default kitty looks for a config file in the OS config directories (usually ~/.config/kitty/kitty.conf and additionally ~/Library/Preferences/kitty/kitty.conf on macOS) but you can pass a specific path via the --config option or use the KITTY_CONFIG_DIRECTORY environment variable. See the help for the --config option in kitty --help for full details. You can also dump the current configuration using the --debug-config option.

== Startup Sessions

You can control the tabs, window layout, working directory, startup programs, etc. by creating a "session" file and using the --session command line flag. For example:


Set the window layout for the current tab

layout tall

Set the working directory for windows in the current tab

cd ~

Create a window and run the specified command in it

launch zsh

Create a window with some environment variables set and run vim in it

launch env FOO=BAR vim

Set the title for the next window

title Chat with x launch irssi --profile x

Create a new tab (the part after new_tab is the optional tab name which will

be displayed in the tab bar, if omitted, the title of the active window will

be used instead)

new_tab my tab cd ~/somewhere

Set the layouts allowed in this tab

enabled_layouts tall, stack

Set the current layout

layout stack launch zsh

Make the current window the active (focused) window

focus launch emacs ....

== Protocol Extensions

kitty has a few extensions to the xterm protocol, to enable advanced features, see link:protocol-extensions.asciidoc[Protocol Extensions].

== Font control

kitty has extremely flexible and powerful font selection features. You can specify individual families for the regular, bold, italic and bold+italic fonts. You can even specify specific font families for specific ranges of unicode characters. This allows precise control over text rendering. It can come in handy for applications like powerline, without the need to use patched fonts. See the various font related configuration directives in the link:kitty/kitty.conf[config file].

== Performance

The main goals for kitty performance are user perceived latency while typing and "smoothness" while scrolling as well as CPU usage. kitty tries hard to find an optimum balance for these. To that end it keeps a cache of each rendered glyph in video RAM so that font rendering is not a bottleneck. Interaction with child programs takes place in a separate thread from rendering, to improve smoothness.

There are two parameters you can tune to adjust the performance. repaint_delay and input_delay. These control the artificial delays introduced into the render loop to reduce CPU usage. See the link:kitty/kitty.conf[config file] for details. See also the sync_to_monitor option to further decrease latency at the cost of some link:[tearing] while scrolling.

You can generate detailed per-function performance data using link:[gperftools]. Build kitty with make profile which will create an executable called kitty-profile. Run that and perform the task you want to analyse, for example, scrolling a large file with less. After you quit, function call statistics will be printed to stdout and you can use tools like kcachegrind for more detailed analysis.

Here are some CPU usage numbers for the task of scrolling a file continuously in less. The CPU usage is for the terminal process and X together and is measured using htop. The measurements are taken at the same font and window size for all terminals on a Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4820K CPU @ 3.70GHz CPU with a Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Cape Verde XT [Radeon HD 7770/8760 / R7 250X] GPU.

|=== | Terminal | CPU usage (X + terminal)

| kitty | 6 - 8% | xterm | 5 - 7% (but scrolling was extremely janky) | termite | 10 - 13% | urxvt | 12 - 14% | gnome-terminal | 15 - 17% | konsole | 29 - 31%


As you can see, kitty uses much less CPU than all terminals, except xterm, but its scrolling "smoothness" is much better than that of xterm (at least to my, admittedly biased, eyes).

== Note for Linux/macOS packagers

While kitty does use python, it is not a traditional python package, so please do not install it in site-packages. Instead run,

python3 linux-package

This will install kitty into the directory linux-package. You can run kitty with linux-package/bin/kitty. All the files needed to run kitty will be in linux-package/lib/kitty. The terminfo file will be installed into linux-package/share/terminfo. Simply copy these files into /usr to install kitty. In other words, linux-package is the staging area into which kitty is installed. You can choose a different staging area, by passing the --prefix argument to

You should probably split kitty into two packages, kitty-terminfo that installs the terminfo file and kitty that installs the main program. This allows users to install the terminfo file on servers into which they ssh, without needing to install all of kitty.

You also need tic to compile the terminfo files, it is usually found in the development package of ncurses

This applies to creating packages for kitty for macOS package managers such as brew or MacPorts as well.

== Frequently Asked Questions

=== Some special symbols are rendered small/truncated in kitty?

The number of cells a unicode character takes up are controlled by the unicode standard. All characters are rendered in a single cell unless the unicode standard says they should be rendered in two cells. When a symbol does not fit, it will either be rescaled to be smaller or truncated (depending on how much extra space it needs). This is often different from other terminals which just let the character overflow into neighboring cells, which is fine if the neighboring cell is empty, but looks terrible if it is not.

Some programs, like powerline, vim with fancy gutter symbols/status-bar, etc. misuse unicode characters from the private use area to represent symbols. Often these symbols are square and should be rendered in two cells. However, since private use area symbols all have their width set to one in the unicode standard, kitty renders them either smaller or truncated. The exception is if these characters are followed by a space or empty cell in which case kitty makes use of the extra cell to render them in two cells.

=== How do I build on macOS?

Install imagemagick, optipng and librsvg using brew or similar (needed for the logo generation step).

And run:

make app

This unlike the released one does not include its own copy of python and the other dependencies. So if you ever un-install/upgrade those dependencies you might have to rebuild the app.

Note that the released kitty.dmg includes all dependencies, unlike the built above and is built automatically by using the kitty branch of link:[build-calibre] however, that is designed to run on Linux and is not for the faint of heart.

=== Using a color theme with a background color does not work well in vim?

First make sure you have not changed the TERM environment variable, it should be xterm-kitty. vim uses background color erase even if the terminfo file does not contain the bce capability. This is a bug in vim. You can work around it by adding the following to your vimrc:

.... let &t_ut='' ....

See link:[here] for why kitty does not support background color erase.

=== I get errors about the terminal being unknown or opening the terminal failing when SSHing into a different computer?

This happens because the kitty terminfo files are not available on the server. You can ssh in using the following command which will automatically copy the terminfo files to the server:

.... kitty +kitten ssh myserver ....

If for some reason that does not work (typically because the server is using a very limited shell), you can use the following one-liner instead (it is slower as it needs to ssh into the server twice, but will work with most servers).

.... infocmp xterm-kitty | ssh myserver tic -x -o ~/.terminfo /dev/stdin ....

Really, the correct solution for this is to convince the OpenSSH maintainers to have ssh do this automatically when connecting to a server, so that all terminals work transparently.

=== How do I change the colors in a running kitty instance?

You can either use the link:[OSC terminal escape codes] to set colors or you can enable link:remote-control.asciidoc[remote control] for kitty and use kitty @ set-colors --help.

=== How do I specify command line options for kitty on macOS?

Apple does not want you to use command line options with GUI applications. To workaround that limitation, kitty will read command line options from the file <kitty config dir>/macos-launch-services-cmdline when it is launched from the GUI, i.e. by clicking the kitty application icon or using open -a kitty. Note that this file is only read when running via the GUI.

You can, of course, also run kitty from a terminal with command line options, using: /Applications/

And within kitty itself, you can always run kitty using just kitty as it cleverly adds itself to the PATH.

=== kitty is not able to use my favorite font?

kitty achieves its stellar performance by caching alpha masks of each rendered character on the GPU, so that every character needs to be rendered only once. This means it is a strictly character cell based display. As such it can use only monospace fonts, since every cell in the grid has to be the same size. If your font is not listed in kitty list-fonts it means that it is not monospace. On Linux you can list all monospace fonts with,

fc-list : family spacing | grep spacing=100

== Resources on terminal behavior